2 easy ways to protect your college or university brand from the wrong side of the internet

A beautiful ad for your institution. On-brand. On-message. Carefully concepted. Beautifully designed. And sitting on a website full of inflammatory hate speech.

More and more colleges and universities are receiving complaints about ads promoting their institution being served and seen on offensive websites. And the outcry from the complainer is often about why on earth your institution would choose to place your ad on that site. When the truth is, your institution likely didn’t. Your marketing team bought ads through certain display networks, choosing to target specific audiences. And for whatever reason, your ad network thought your audience may very well be there.

Whether or not you choose to block your ads from being seen, and on which sites, is an ethical choice for you and your institution to make. But there are some easy ways to safeguard your brand from appearing on the most obvious inflammatory, profane and sexual sites.

1) Utilize Google’s built-in ad safety settings

As the largest advertiser on the Internet, your institution is likely utilizing Google’s Display Network for a large portion of your display advertising purposes. Fortunately, Google makes it easy to exclude your ads from appearing on websites by keyword, topic, or entire categories of sites based on their content.

The problem is that thousands of new sites are added to Google’s Display Network every day, along with 400 new hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. While Google claims that 98% of reported content is reviewed within 24 hours, there still lies a window of your ad showing up there before being reported. So if that happens, and the complaints come in, you can…

2) Manually exclude specific sites you’re not comfortable with your ads appearing

Google also makes it easy to block your ads from appearing on specific sites, either preemptively, or as complaints come in that you agree with.

While it is near impossible to completely safeguard your college or university’s brand protection on the internet (outside of relying on 100% manual placements), these are the easiest and biggest brand safety next-steps you can take today.

Eric Olsen

Eric brings more than a decade of award-winning creative brand development, marketing analytics and higher education experience to Helix Education. Eric is a graduate of Bradley University and earned his MBA at Lewis University.